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The satirical institution invites all and sundry to participate in its attempt to create an alternative British national artwork, The F***yeux Tapestry. Modern Toss hopes to set a record for “the longest single panel cartoon with the word ‘fuck’ in it”. Come along and they will supply the pen, as part of the Pick Me Up graphic arts festival.
To be honest, getting the word “fuck” into a massive work of art seems to be the primary intellectual focus of the day. However, let’s pretend it’s a brave comment on art, history and Britishness. Let’s imagine there is some content to the work’s title beyond a nice way of spelling “fuck you”.
The original Bayeux tapestry is the most famous British artwork that is not in Britain. Created by women to record the Norman conquest, it dates from the late 11th century – in other words, it was created when the battle of Hastings in 1066 was a recent, living memory.
This masterpiece that is nearly 1,000 years old and kept in a museum in Bayeux in Normandy is a strangely misunderstood work of art. It tends to be imagined as Norman propaganda, a celebration of William I’s military victory at Hastings and proclamation of his right to rule. Yet in reality, it is threaded with images of the horrors of war. A house is set on fire, while bodies litter the battlefield. It is an uneasy, even-handed chronicle of history, red in tooth and claw.
Are we more progressive than the medieval artists who acknowledged the dark side of their recent history? A gun carriage carries the last imperial leader towards St Paul’s. The Falklands war is remembered officially as a great national victory, neither petty nor brutal.
I don’t know. Perhaps Modern Toss is indeed saying something profound about modern Britain with The F***yeux Tapestry.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010